Tobruk diaries: Back to Tobruk...
1941, Tobruk, Tobruk diaries, Tobruk, Rats of Tobruk, Lecky, Bryant, Cosgriff
Cosgriff’s diary: Friday 19th September 1941
Another perfect night... Good round this morning. Eyetie patient very violent...Air warfare at a stand-still due to dust I think... C.O. wanting to know why I want uniform allowance. Gillespie here today. Steele told him all about Conlon. Len had a parcel of Crown A’s today – still fresh from Australia. Boys intrigued to know when we are going out but no sign this month. John Devine going with 3rd Ambulance.
Bryant’s diary: Friday 19th September 1941
We spent the whole of the day erecting tents at the Staging Camp. We are told that there is a draft leaving for Tobruk in the morning.
Cosgriff’s diary: Saturday 20th September 1941
Quiet night again...Mass for Mary J. Easy round today...Rumour that 43rd is not going – confirmed later by John Rice. 32nd going instead – what a blow!! Some of our gear being packed but not even a rumour about us. Buried an Eyetie today. The cemetery is looking good now. Teaching the Polish priest English... Had plenty of cork-tipped cigarettes from Phil – the boys want tobacco not cigs. Rum issue is making some heads ache. Raid today...
Bryant’s diary: Saturday 20th September 1941
We got up at 4 o’clock in the morning to go to Alexandria. We got aboard the destroyer H.M.S. Kimberley but before leaving the harbour the destroyer takes on a party which is the advance guard for two British divisions. The Kimberley left about 8 o’clock and eventually reached the rest of the convoy which consisted of 3 destroyers and a mine layer. Two bombs were dropped from a big altitude, but missed the convoy. Just off Bardia we picked up an open boat containing an Australian, 2 English and 7 Greeks who had escaped from Crete. They were in excellent physical condition and had only been on the sea three days. We reached Tobruk just before 10 o’clock at night and travelled by truck to the staging camp. The night was very cold and none of us had a blanket.
Cosgriff’s diary: Sunday 21st September 1941
Good night...Big crowd at 1st Mass... Crouch in and very cocky now with tank re-enforcements – says it is just like that -- Few patients for me. 2/43rd going into the Figtree tonight instead of Alex. 32nd going away instead... I think I would like to see it out now. One Hurricane over today. Few drops of rain in...blackness. Mail in – just 14 days home to here. Sent 5 pounds for altar fund in memory of John Donovan. Asked C.O. to see to our graves. Booked every night to teach English now...
Bryant’s diary: Sunday 21st September 1941
Trucks didn’t arrive until 3 o’clock in the afternoon to take us to the unit and when they did arrive we went to “B” echelon where we had to wait until dark to go up. “D” Coy was in reserve and we could walk from Bn H.Q.
Lecky’s letters: 21 September
...went to another concert the other night...not nearly as good as our own little private party...One particular poem was rather good – it expressed our sentiments regarding strikers in no uncertain terms. I only hope it reaches the right quarters but fear it won’t pass the ABC as it contained the word “bludgers” several times... Had two letters from Bill Blackall lately – he has joined up at last with a survey coy...I replied and said he would never regret enlisting – never since leaving Australia have I met anyone who has...
Edmondson’s act of heroism happened here some months ago while he was out with a patrol. He held the enemy with a machine gun while his mates escaped to safety and lost his own life in doing so. There is actually a lot more glory attached in the surrounding circumstances but that’s all I can say about it for the present. With regard to his memorial...I will be glad to put something towards it but for the... present think that every spare bean should be put to material use.
Cosgriff’s diary: Monday 22nd September 1941
Another good night...Very few patients today. Change round of cooks due to rum issue. Given to troops every day now as there is too much in Tobruk. Steele in today for confession. Furphies galore today - i) Italy has pulled out of war; ii) we are going on Thursday; iii) shortage of enemy raids is due to petrol shortage. Ward II closed today and we have never had fewer patients. Instruments being packed and Len was unable to obtain some this morning. Had right ear examined and Len says it is not so good – old injury. Cold early in the evening now and jackets are appearing. Many reinforcements have been arriving, new English units...
Bryant’s diary: Monday 22nd September 1941
I was lucky enough to get the old section back but I could hardly recognise the old company. There were many new faces while many of the old familiar ones are missing.
Cosgriff’s diary: Tuesday 23rd September 1941
Planes over at 4:30 am but could not hear the bombs drop... Excellent round today and ran out of hosts. Abe Freeberg’s relief arrived but no word for us... Joe Doyle here – blithered and talked about priests and religion. Obtained crate to send Angel home. Hope to get it to Kartoona and thence by hospital ship. J.R. on planes coming down from petrol shortage – 5 of them. Two planes over today but I think no bombs. Bardia Bill reported to have worked last night but I did not hear them. Rum issue still on and changes among the cooks because some had got blithered. “”
Bryant’s diary: Tuesday 23rd September 1941
There is only a little digging to do and the day was easy. The Luftwaffe visited us in the night and dropped a couple of eggs, but they only hit the ground.
Cosgriff’s diary: Wednesday 24th September 1941
Planes over for the hour 4-5. Dropped mines mostly... Ear discharged all night and pretty sore today. Len...goes at it with powder – and again tonight...shelling of harbour today – to stop sweeping for mines. Many of them were duds. Mail in... Colin Wren completed design for x-mas card. Thought C.O. and Littlejohn too critical of it. C.O. of new tank regiment in this arvo – says only 12 new tanks...
Bryant’s diary: Wednesday 24th September 1941
...The advance party of the Leicestershire Regiment arrived. This battalion is to take over our area. Rumours are strong that we are coming out, but I cannot see us going from Tobruk inside a month. The moon is on the rise and this will limit shipping movement to begin with.
Cosgriff’s diary: Tuesday 25rd September 1941
Quiet night again...Saw every patient here today – not much work among them. Ear still bad and it is especially so after the powder. Burst of casualties – a-a – changing over – parading and a direct hit. 10 killed – 20 injured. Most of the new men were North of Ireland. Funeral today... Press reporters here re. Gard and myself... Reporter – broke my glasses shaking hands with me – blind as well as deaf now. Paper mail in – Bulletin and press from someone in Goulburn...
Bryant’s diary: Thursday 25th September 1941
Except for an occasional shell all was quiet. The weather is becoming increasingly cold. A little rain fell today and laid the dust.